I'm not even sure where to start. Even as I sit down to type this, I cannot believe where this past month has taken my life and my family. It's been just over a month since I posted, ugh, too long. Within one month, I have: shot 6 weddings. Flown to Milwaukee. Given my notice to move from my current residence. And rallied with my family to work thru my mom's cancer diagnosis, surgery, and long term prognosis. Let me re-type that: my mom's cancer diagnosis, surgery, and prognosis. In one month. Hot Damn.
My mom is the healthiest person I know, she runs regularly, eats foods like flax seed muffins and seaweed and has a bangin' figure. I think there's also an element in there that as children, we think our parents are invincible. The moment we realize our parents are human, well, its life changing...
With no health insurance, I took my mom to the emergency room to get checked out, I had my yoga mat in the car and my mom was on her lunch break, we were in there for some prescription pepto bismol to kick a nasty stomach bug that had been pestering her for about a month. The doctors told us that it was a gallstone. Weird. And that they were going to admit her directly to the hospital and put her on the surgery list for tomorrow. Even Weirder. But ok, do what you do Doc and make my mom well.
That night, another doctor came in and said maybe it wasn't a gallstone and they wanted to stick a microscope down there to check things out. Fast forward, I'm sitting in an empty waiting room looking at Better Homes and Gardens when the doctor came in and told me that it was actually a tumor. And it was cancerous. Blackout.
It's weird to hear men of science use words like lucky, and fortunate, and blessed. I didn't understand what they meant. My mom had a cancerous tumor in her body. There was nothing lucky about it.
Side Note: I never saw my great grandmother without a cigarette in her mouth at the kitchen table and she lived to the ripe old age of 91. My mom is 51. Shut Up.
Fast forward, three short weeks and it's surgery day. A last minute surgery schedule change landed her in pre-op prep the same day I flew out of BWI for an out of state wedding. Gutted. Four hours of surgery later, and my mom- minus a a tumor, a bunch of digestive piping, 20% of her pancreas and her gallbladder- was in ICU recovery.
The doctors said that they caught my mom's Ampullary cancer in stage 1. Praise. The doctor also said that in all his years of medicine, he had never had a stage 1 case of this type of caner. My mom's tumor (miraculously) grew outward in her digestive canal such that it blocked her bile duct and triggered a whole slew of red flags: itching, tummy issues, lethargy. It seems that these types of tumors usually grow into the walls of the canals instead of outwardly. It makes them undetectable until they are advanced stages. How is it, that out of all of the people to get diagnosed with this type of caner, my mom was the ONLY person who was lucky, fortunate, blessed enough to have has this caner caught in stage 1.
The oncologist told us that she's never not recommended chemotherapy to a patient with my mom's cancer- but bc they caught it so early and ALL of the tests of her nodes and surrounding tissue were negative, she wasn't recommending it. Her doctors told us that they want to feature her case at their next oncology conference, they just didn't know what to do with her b/c (let me repeat) they've NEVER had a case like her's.
Exactly one month to the day from her initial diagnosis of cancer, my mom got a clean bill of health. Cancer free. So lucky, so fortunate, so blessed. There are people who battle cancer for years; my mom's battle lasted one month, exactly... and had a happy ending.
The day the doctor's told us that she was cancer free, the hospital Chaplin said a hospital wide prayer over the loud speaker about thanks and acceptance. When the doctor gives you a long term prognosis, those are your only two options: you're either thankful or you begin to accept what you've just been told. There are no words to describe how humbled and thankful we are as a family to be on that upside of those two options.
A few other things: St. Mary's Bons Secour is the best hospital in Richmond and I would be confident arguing in the country. *Dr. Carmody is our new family hero, I love that man. I'm debating on getting t-shirts with his face made for us to parade thru St. Mary's with.* When a baby is born, they play special music throughout the hospital. It's like when a a bell rings, a fairy gets their wings. Twice while we were there, twins were born. *My mom has a Frankenstein scar down her entire abdomen, legit.* Nurse assistant Wanda of floor 4 is an angel. Under her scrub, there are wings, I'm sure of it. *And lastly, my mom has taken on a ridiculously loud, ambiguously vague laugh that's indecipherable between a laugh, cry from pain, high pitched siren, hyena call- you name it, bc I and all of her nurses couldn't quite.